Great And Sovereign God!

20160626_091953This Friday a team of men from my church in California will leave for Jamaica to partner in ministry with some of the best people I know, mentors from the Swallowfield Boys’ Club in Kingston.  I first wrote about this summer camp for un-churched boys who live in an area characterized by poverty and violence in November last year (see The Power of One, 11/8/2015).

As events have unfolded nothing has happened the way I saw it in my head when I sat down to interview the senior pastor of Swallowfield Chapel, and the Director of the Boys’ Club back in October.  Money for sponsorships has been provided with very little input from me, except to share their story with a few people, and I have had absolutely nothing to do with the team headed down, except to feed them Jamaican food… one time! ja team

My excitement is a living breathing thing as preparations for this unusual camp ramp up, and one phrase from Scripture is stuck on repeat in my head,

“…this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”  Mark 12:11

First of all, the burden I’ve felt for these boys and their mentors is completely unexpected.  I’m usually a Women’s Ministry kind of girl and have no problem “stayin’ in mah lane”!  What do I know about ministering to these boys or encouraging the men who have worked this hard ground for so many years without seeing any abundance of fruit from their labor?  BUT GOD…

“…He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”  1 Timothy 6:15b – 16

The reality of God’s absolute sovereignty, (supreme power and authority) chaps our hide if we do not know or trust Him enough, or are stubbornly determined to be rebellious in our hearts. We might hate the truth that free will and the ability to make our own choices operate strictly within the impassable boundaries that God Himself has set, but… it is what it is.

For those of us who see Him for who He truly is, who know that the very essence of His being is perfect love, and choose to trust Him enough to relinquish our will to His, the absolute sovereignty of God is the only true security to be found in this uncertain world.  In perilous times, difficult circumstances, and daunting challenges, my soul remains anchored in the truth that my Sovereign God never says,

“Oooops!  Never saw that coming! Kinda messes up Mah plan!”

The Bible recounts the devastating experiences of a man named Job, but it also tells the priceless treasure he discovered in the end;

“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2

That!  …that right there my friends is all my security, for camp and beyond …just living the thing.

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Thoughts From The Table

Author, Wendy Morgan
Author, Wendy Morgan

I wasn’t happy as I lay there that morning. I was waiting for my radiation treatment but I had to get to church, I had to lead the discussion at Bible Study and I wanted coffee (emphasis on all the “I”s). Then it hit me; through the inconvenience of being late God had blessed me.

Usually one or two people occupy the waiting room; eyes in their laps lost in their own thoughts. If you’ve known me for any length of time you know that’s not me though. If I was going to share a waiting room with someone for 6 weeks I was going to know names.

There was Sylvia (her poodles wait for her in the car), Terry (she was almost done), Mr. Anderson (who absentmindedly rubs the angry scar on his head) and Maria. Maria was my blessing that day. Usually we have just enough time to say good morning, find out how treatment is going, and how each other’s weekend was. However, because of a late doctor I got to hear her story.

In July 2013 Maria had a mastectomy, no additional treatment needed; until it was discovered that cancer had been left behind. Fast forward a year; more surgery, chemo and radiation along with a diagnosis of incurable stage 4 breast cancer. She would have cancer forever, however long her forever was. She knew though in her heart that wasn’t God’s plan for her and she and her husband were trusting God for total healing.

We were able to share our God stories and how we were both relying on the strength that God gives us every day and looking for the blessings in the pain. I could tell that we had everyone’s attention and I said a quick prayer for those who were listening to our stories. Maria had a scan in December and they were unable to find any signs of cancer! What a morning that was. What I would have missed out on if the doctor had been on time.

A favorite verse of mine is:

“This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

If this is the day that God made then this is the minute that God made and this is the moment that God made and I am to rejoice in all of them even the ones that mess up my plans.

“We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 6:9

I know this is true for our life-size steps, or the little steps. We make our plans and are in such a hurry that we get upset with any delays or God-ordained detour.  However, God’s schedule is far better than anything we can come up with. I am very thankful a late appointment was His plan for me that day and I realize that when my plans get messed up to keep my eyes open for His blessings as I’m…. just living the thing.

Condolences and prayers…

Our_deepest_condolences_1On behalf of the team of writers at Just Living the Thing, we extend our sincere condolences to all who knew, loved, and mourn the violent deaths of singer Christina Grimmie, and all the victims of this morning’s mass shooting in Orlando.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:2-4

You are in our thoughts and earnest prayers for peace and comfort to overwhelm you.

I Do Believe, Help My Unbelief

Author, Sonna Evans
Author, Sonna Evans

Last week I was scheduled to have a procedure to correct an abnormality with my heart’s electrical system. I have been suffering with this issue for 6 ½ years and this procedure could cure it once and for all, no more daily medication needed.

Except, it was unsuccessful. The problem area was too close to an important heart structure and my doctor was uncomfortable with the location and terminated the procedure. I was disappointed, but felt at peace.

During recovery my symptoms totally subsided and I wondered if they would come back. Was I healed? Even though medically speaking the procedure had been unsuccessful? Arrhythmias often come and go with no real explanation.

I had been praying most of the day. I prayed during the procedure, I prayed in recovery, and now the thought that maybe I had been healed became the subject of my prayers.

One of my struggles with God is that I believe that He CAN heal me, but I don’t believe that he WILL heal ME. I think He will do it for others, but He won’t choose to do it for me.

As I prayed Mark 9:14-29 came to mind. The father of the boy begging Jesus to heal his son who was possessed by a demon from birth says,

“I do believe, help my unbelief.”

This phrase stuck in my mind and I kept repeating it over and over.

By the next day I still had no symptoms. Contrary to the doctor’s instructions I did not start back on my medications right away. I wanted to see if I really was healed. I even wrote in my journal the next morning about the possibility that I had been healed.

However, not long after that journal entry the palpitations and racing heart rate began again in their traditional fashion. Sigh.

Why?! What was all this for? Pain, discomfort, days off work, and stuck at home to recover? I didn’t want to process it all. I focused on my recovery and vegged out to movies and TV.

The time was right a few days later to sit down and talk it out with God.  My dream to be medication-free had been shattered. I asked God, “Why?!” But the thing about shattered dreams is sometimes we won’t know why.

Though I do believe God CAN heal me, I still struggle with unbelief; that He WILL do it for ME, but maybe that’s warped thinking. Maybe my belief needs to grow, not in Him healing me, but in knowing that His ways are always best, and that I can trust Him.

Of course in my mind being healed is best, but what do I know? He is the Sovereign Creator of the universe and I am but dust. He is mighty, holy, omniscient, omnipresent, faithful, loving and kind. I am His creation. He is still all these things even if He sees fit to allow this illness to continue. Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief…just living the thing.